COLUMBIA — Picture the image of a man sleeping on a non-existent chair and surrounded by colorful bubbles.
It was that image in watercolor, titled "Suspense," that gave artist Paul Jackson of Columbia a first-place win at the Missouri Watercolor Society Members' Invitational opening reception and awards ceremony Sunday.
The yearly exhibition showcased 121 entries that featured both realistic and abstract subjects, all done using a water-based medium.
The Columbia Art League gallery was crowded with members of both the society and community who turned out to view and discuss the works on display.
Carla Reinagel, a watercolor artist who entered one of her pieces, said she enjoyed the overall experience.
"Here is a show where there is just incredible talent and a place I can learn and grow," Reinagel said.
Jerry Berneche, this year's judge and first-place winner of the 2007 show, judged the wide collection based on subject matter, technique, color, composition and whether the work captured his attention or was "thought-provoking."
Berneche said "Suspense" did just that.
"I think the idea behind it was so unusual," Berneche said. "It was the one that was so different. It was really unique."
George "Papa" Tutt, artist and president of the society, remembers the organization's humble beginnings.
"In 1999, five of us from St. Louis to Kansas City got together in Fulton and decided to create the Missouri Watercolor Society," he said. "We thought if we could have 35 members, we'd do really good."
The society currently has 407 members with artists from across the country. Tutt said having the exhibition in Columbia expands the city and gives it a chance to bring other artists to the community.
Diana Moxon, executive director of the Columbia Art League, agrees.
"It's wonderful to have this quality of watercolor work come to Columbia," she said.
Marlin Rotach of Kansas City took second place at the Invitional, and Loran Creech of California, Mo. received third place.
The exhibition will be on display through Oct. 11 at the Columbia Art League, 207 S. Ninth St.